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Michelle Yu: On-Site Saudi Cup Report & Analysis

by Michelle Yu

February 25, 2022


Editor's Note: 1/ST racing analyst Michelle Yu of Santa Anita -- pictured above with Mishriff -- has been on-site at Riyadh for this Saturday's Saudi Cup. She filed this handicappers' report for 1/ST BET and Xpressbet players.

Xpressbet and 1/ST BET will offer full-card wagering on the Saudi Cup program, beginning with advance wagering on Friday. Players on those two platforms can take advantage of up to a $10 money-back special on every race on the card. If your win bet finishes second or third, you'll get a refund in wager credits to your account up to $10.

Saturday's $20 million Saudi Cup Field with Trainers

1-Country Grammer | Bob Baffert
2-Aero Trem | Antonio Pereira
3-Midnight Bourbon | Steve Asmussen
4-Real World | Saeed Bin Suroor
5-Emblem Road | Mitab Almulawah
6-Mandaloun | Brad Cox
7-Magny Cours | Andre Fabre
8-T O Keynes | Daisuke Takayanagi
9-Art Collector | Bill Mott
10-Making Miracles | Mitab Almulawah
11-Sealiway | Francis Henri Graffard
12-Secret Ambition | Satish Seemar
13-Marche Lorraine | Yohito Yashagi
14-Mishriff | John & Thady Gosden

Art Collector gets the cat bird seat with the outside draw and speed. He is a distance specialist if there ever was one, 5 for 5 at the 9 furlongs at multiple tracks, levels and turn configurations including a G1 score in the Woodward. He had a solid 2021, but was nowhere to be found in the Breeders' Cup Classic. He has been aggressive since coming to Saudi and I'm not afraid of an off-the-rail trip to try and score gate to wire with the speed and interest he has been flashing here.

TO Keynes, arguably the best dirt horse in Japan, this chestnut son of Sinister Minister has been tipping his hand on track this week. Normally excitable in the stalls, he was picture-perfect schooling Thursday and you can't fault him for his energy or focus. Recently scored in the Champion Stakes over Chuwa Wizard, who was a runner-up in the 2021 Dubai World Cup, but a non-factor in the Saudi Cup.

Real World has won his last 5 races, but all of those were on grass. His dirt form leaves something to be desired, but in truth he might just not be in love with the dirt surface at Meydan. A mile race under the belt to kick off the season was sharp and Saeed bin Suroor was bullish on his chances at the draw. He was very hot and washy in his first main track appearance though he was much more composed by the end of his track work and the connections assured me that he would continue to settle down as he became familiar with the track. He can lay close enough to get the jump on horses that are closing, and if he prefers this footing, he stands a shot for the pot.

M OR M?:
Mandaloun or Mishriff?. Either horse would bring down the stands with Saudi interests being represented, but I have to lean to last year's victor for this. Mishriff has shown his effectiveness over this surface two years in a row now, and I think the track layout especially suits a horse like him with a more grinding turn of foot. He out-stayed Charlatan last year, who was questionable at the distance, and he will have to reel in horses who like the 9 panels ... but I can't overlook this consistent performer who stands on the edge of becoming the richest horse to have ever raced. Mandaloun will need to improve off his nice prep race. And while he has looked well here training, and he hails from a powerhouse outfit, he has had trouble stringing together wins. After all, his two biggest triumphs have both come via DQ. There is more to prove.